Image showing Conference Agenda

Conference Agenda

Conference Agenda

We are so excited to share with you the agenda for the MTJA 2024 Spring Conference in Bismarck-Mandan! As we get closer and have everyone's tour, activity and dining choices processed, we will send a more detailed agenda to you via email.


Please contact MTJA Associate Member, Camie Lies, Director of Marketing & Communications with the Bismarck-Mandan CVB, at (701) 557-7115 or with questions.

Tuesday, June 11

Throughout the Day: Board Members Arrive
You will receive your registration bag and materials upon arrival to the hotel.

6:00 pm: Board Dinner
Attire: Dressy Casual.
food at the butterhorn

Non-board Members Arriving Early?
Let us know if travel plans land you in town early and we'll help you find some fun ways to spend your time! Oh look - the Bismarck Larks, our Northwoods League baseball team, are playing in town that night!
Clark the Lark and Merifeather Lewis
Greetings from Clark the Lark and Merifeather Lewis, mascots for the Bismarck Larks - photo credit Bismarck Larks

Wednesday, June 12

8:00 am: Board Breakfast
Radisson Hotel Bismarck.

8:30 am-12:00 pm: Board Meeting
Radisson Hotel Bismarck.

12:00 pm: Board Luncheon

12:00-3:45 pm: Registration
Radisson Hotel Bismarck. If you arrive outside of these hours we will be sure to get you your registration bag and information.

Throughout the Day: MTJA Members Arrive
Check-in time at the Radisson is 3 pm but we will do our best to try to get early check-ins when possible. If not, they will be able to hold your bags until your room is ready.
Missiour River

1:00-3:00 pm: Board Meeting Continues
Radisson Hotel Bismarck. Only if necessary.

1:00-3:00 pm: Optional Afternoon Tour
Arriving early? Spend a couple of hours exploring alongside fellow attendees on a guided walking tour of historic downtown Bismarck. Registration is not required but appreciated. Hear a sneak peek of some history of the area through the Talking Trail site and History Hotdish podcast. Attire: Casual, wear comfortable walking shoes.

Downtown Bismarck

4:30 pm: Guided Tours of North Dakota’s Gateway to Science
Just opened in March 2023, the expanded North Dakota’s Gateway to Science is now 43,000 square feet of amazing hands-on science fun! The $26 million building sits on a hill overlooking the Missouri River and is a treat for all. The interactive galleries tell the story of innovation and opportunity in North Dakota with exhibits on agriculture, energy, healthcare, transportation and more. Attire: Dressy Casual.

5:30-7:30 pm: Welcome Reception and Opening Remarks
Welcome! Join us as we kick off the MTJA 2024 Spring Conference in Bismarck-Mandan! Enjoy drinks and heavy appetizers on the deck of North Dakota’s Gateway to Science while we welcome you. Afterwards, take in the views & science center some more and visit with friends who you have not seen in a while or make new ones!
ND's Gateway to Science

8:00-10:30 pm: Big Games!
Radisson Hotel Bismarck, first floor, next to the Off Broadway Lounge. Enjoy cornhole, big Connect 4, giant Jenga and more! Not into games? Hang out with friends and shoot the breeze!
Big Games

Thursday, June 13

7:00-8:15 am: Breakfast Buffet
Radisson Hotel Bismarck. Learn about some exciting things coming to Bismarck and Mandan in the near future!

8:45 am-1:30 pm: Morning Tours
Morning tours with lunch included. Attire: Casual, wear comfortable shoes.
Putting Mandan on the Map
As we arrive in Mandan we will pick up a beverage from one of Mandan's great coffee establishments, Cappuccino on Collins or Copper Dog Café, and hear their story. Then we're in for a treat and will visit with and meet Marlo Anderson, founder and creator of the National Day Calendar in his Midwest headquarters. Afterwards we'll talk with Matt Schanandore, Executive Director of the Mandan Progress Organization, and visit with him while he shares information on Mandan’s incredible and unique annual events, which they are known for.
Holiday Lights
Holiday Lights on Main in Mandan - photo credit Mandan Progress Organization

Lewis & Clark Trail - THIS TOUR IS FULL
Time to hit the trail! Visit a life-size keelboat, experience engaging exhibits, hundreds of period artifacts, world-class art collections and friendly interpreters who tell the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition like never before at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Step back in time at the reconstructed Fort Mandan, where Lewis & Clark spent the winter of 1804-05, meeting Sakakawea, their indispensable guide during the rest of their travels.
Lewis and Clark interruptive center


Bismarck-Mandan Art Trail
See the art. Snap the art. Share the art. Win the prizes! We'll visit quite a few of the 100 locations on the Bismarck-Mandan Art Trail. All the way from Bismarck Downtown Artist Cooperative (BDAC) to our Art Alley 5.5, in downtown Bismarck, to some vending machines (Meadowlark Mercantile) that dispense art at your fingertips, to a Free Little Art Gallery, along the Missouri River. Paul Noot, local artist and teacher, will help guide our way. Hear some Talking Trail information on Art Alley 5.5.
The Art Trail
Darley Newman and Paul Noot, by the portrait of Sitting Bull by artist Melissa Gordon at Art Alley 5.5 – photo credit Travels with Darley

ND State Capitol & Paleontology Tour
Take a guided tour of the North Dakota State Capitol and hear why it has no dome and how the Art Deco-styled building came to be. Then we'll dig deep into an in-depth paleontology tour at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum while learning about the secrets that the ground below our state hides. While there, come skin to skin with Dakota, our dino-mummy. Only one of six known in the world to have actual mummified skin.
Uncovering Dakota
Uncovering Dakota - photo credit State Historical Society of ND

Create, Throw and Sip
Beginner-friendly! One of our amazing local artists, Nicole Gagner, will lead you in a class to make a mixed media journaling project that you can use as a visual travel log in future travels. Afterwards, make your way to Laughing Sun Brewing where we will learn all about their award winning brewery & BBQ restaurant. Then, why not try your hand at axe, spear, star and metal card throwing?! It's International Axe Throwing Day so it sounds perfect. We'll grab lunch and one of their beverages on tap, then be back to the hotel. You must wear closed toe shoes and pre-sign a waiver.
Laughing Sun Brew

2:00-3:30 pm: Professional Development Sessions
Radisson Hotel Bismarck.
Actives: Catharine Hamm. The Write Stuff: How to Go to the Head of the Class. What's not to love about travel writing, other than lots of hard work away from home with an uncertain payoff? We will explore the seven keys to success, including the art of pitching, the craft of distinguished writing and details that make the difference between good work and great work.
Catharine Hamm was born in upstate New York but now lives in Los Angeles because of her strong anti-snow stance. Her father, a federal civil servant, used to disguise the many journeys to his new assignments as “vacations.” She was well into her 30s by the time she realized she had been duped, but despite the sleight of hand, she still likes to travel and spent much of her career as a travel journalist, including more than two decades at the Los Angeles Times. She is the managing editor for the digital blog In her spare time, she is the president of the SATW Foundation, which administers the Lowell Thomas Awards, runs a writing coaching program for SATW and edits and writes a monthly newsletter on writing for SATW.
Catharine Hamm
Catharine Hamm

Associates: Leslie Holbrook. Optimizing the Power of PR. From earned media coverage and influencer partnerships to paid content packages and more, PR practitioners are on the front lines when ensuring each initiative and tactic earns results. Leslie will share strategies for driving success with multi-faceted integrated programs. Through substantiated examples and tangible takeaways, we’ll share the recipe to developing and maintaining relationships with media, when to consider social media content creators and how to bring it all together with measurable results.

Leslie Holbrook, Senior Vice President, Fahlgren Mortine, is a strategic practitioner and leader of national PR and influencer engagement programs with 19 years of tourism marketing experience. She has led several tourism clients for Fahlgren Mortine including North Dakota Tourism, Visit Myrtle Beach, TourismOhio, Wyoming Tourism and Columbia, SC, CVB accounts. Under her direction, Fahlgren Mortine’s work has earned national Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Anvil recognition, the industry’s highest honor, six times.
Leslie Holbrook
Leslie Holbrook

4:30-8:00 pm: Evening at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum
Our North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum are referred to as the "Smithsonian on the Prairie" and people are in disbelief when they find out it's free to the public; it is the State's gift to its people. North Dakota’s largest museum features four museum galleries tracing the state’s rich history from its earliest geologic formation 600 million years ago to today. Attire: Dressy Casual.
Heritage Center

Guided Tours of the Galleries. Tour the interactive galleries that lead you through the story of early North Dakota life and geology, featuring life-sized skeleton casts of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops, ready to battle. Continue into the next two galleries and learn more about the history of North Dakota while experiencing it through the eyes of those who once walked the plains, prairies and valleys.
Heritage Center

Taste of North Dakota Dinner and Tour of North Dakota Showcase. Enjoy a Dakota-themed dinner then visit with tourism partners and regions of North Dakota to find out some great story ideas, businesses, locations and unique spots in our state!

8:30-10:30 pm: Socializing in the Hotel Lounge with North Dakota
Catch up with friends, old and new at the Radisson Hotel Bismarck’s Off Broadway Lounge. Local and statewide partners who were at Heritage Center will be invited to join us so you can keep the conversations going.

Friday, June 14

6:15-7:15 am: Optional: Morning Photography Along the Missouri River
Enjoy a morning photography outing along and overlooking the Missouri River with local photographer and historian, Johnathan Campbell. Tomorrow is Nature Photography Day so you will want to bank a few pics! Please let us know if you plan to attend this early morning activity so that we can plan for appropriate transportation. Attire: Casual, wear comfortable shoes.

Johnathan Campbell is a fine art photographer and active member of the Bismarck-Mandan arts community. They have a B.A. in Visual Arts from the University of North Dakota, have twice been selected as the Artist in Residence for North Dakota State Parks and have shown their work across the state.

7:00-8:00 am: Breakfast Buffet
Radisson Hotel Bismarck.

8:15-10:15 am: Media Marketplace
Radisson Hotel Bismarck. This is the time for our Active members to visit with Associate members, one-on-one, about their destinations. All members, please plan to attend the entire Marketplace to get the most out of your time, garnering new information on story ideas. Attire: Business Casual/Logowear.

10:30 am-12:00 pm: Business Meeting
Radisson Hotel Bismarck. Spring 2024 Business Meeting for Active and Associate members of MTJA.

12:15 pm: Downtown Bismarck Lunch Dine Around
Pick from some locally-owned favorites, all within 4 blocks of the hotel: Anima CucinaBlarney Stone Irish PubCraftCade Retro ArcadeJimmy V’sFireFlour Pizzeria or Brick Oven BakeryAttire: Casual, wear comfortable shoes.
Fire Flour

3:00 pm: Guided Tours of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
We'll break up into groups as we tour the park's Visitor Center, On-A-Slant Mandan Indian Village and the General George Custer House. Attire: Casual, wear comfortable shoes.

History comes to life at the park! Take a trip to 1875 and the home of General George and Libbie Custer on Cavalry Square, where their staff still entertains guests with stories of Libbie, the General and the time they spent in Dakota Territory, prior to his ill-fated trip to the Battle of the Little Bighorn. On-A-Slant Mandan Indian Village, dating back to the 1500s, features six rebuilt earthlodges with exhibits and guided tours. The park's Visitor Center houses the nation's best display of Mandan artifacts and history, along with items of interest on Lewis & Clark and General Custer. Visit the Talking Trail site to hear more!
Custer house

6:00 pm: Leave the Fort for Dinner Dine Around
Dinner and evening event choices will be emailed closer to the conference.
River Boat

Optional on Your Own Activity: 510.2 Speakeasy or LÜFT
510.2 Speakeasy is a hidden cocktail bar in the heart of downtown Bismarck. They are known for unique craft cocktails, rare bourbons and prohibition-era atmosphere. LÜFT is a rooftop bar featuring fresh cocktails, craft brews with spectacular views unlike anywhere else in North Dakota!

Saturday, June 15

7:15-8:30 am: Breakfast Buffet and Vice Presidents' Hours
Radisson Hotel Bismarck. Come early to grab breakfast and take it to our concurrent Vice Presidents' Hours for Actives and Associates. Guests are welcome to breakfast but VP Hours are for members only.

9:00 am-2:00 pm: Tours
Tours will have lunch included. Attire: Casual, appropriate for tours, wear comfortable shoes.

Kayaking with Missouri River Kayaks
It’s time that you came face to face with the Mighty Missouri River and kayak in a leisurely way. Rivers are known for disguising some of their coolest features. The water can hide sandbars to hang out at or completely mask historical sites. If you want to explore the secrets of the Missouri River safely, then sign up for this guided kayak tour. Their guides practically live on the river, meaning they've had the time and training needed to uncover hidden gems throughout it. First-timers are welcome! Weather dependent.
Kayak Tour

Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio with Shane Balkowitsch and Unconventional Cookies with Witney Nielsen
Meet with Shane, a local self-taught glass wet plate photographer, tour his studio and experience a demonstration of his process. In 2019 he photographed Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg which later was archived at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. His 2016 wet plate photograph of boxer Evander Holyfield now resides in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. He is proud to be trusted to take Jon Batiste's portrait, where the original plate went to the New Orleans Jazz Museum in his home state. More recent (January 2024) Northern Plains Native American images will land at the State Historical Society of ND, State Historical Society of SD and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (The Oscars) permanent collections. You will not want to miss this tour! We'll also meet up with Witney and have fun learning about her incredibly unique Unconventional Cookies. She makes interactive & irreverent cookies and urges you to play with your food. And in general.
Shane Balkowitsch
Photo credit: Shane Balkowitsch

Golf Time - Yes, Please!
Head to the tee boxes at some of Bismarck-Mandan's increduble seven golf courses. Need a golf pro to help you out? We might just have you covered. We're shooting for Hawktree Golf Club and another location, but will depend on tournaments. And hey, you can't go wrong with any of our local courses! Hawktree features an open, links-style design with a mere 80 acres of irrigated turf grass. The eco friendly course is framed by hills planted in native grasses. Emerald green fairways, bordered by the rusty red grasses, and punctuated with black sand bunkers - the coloration creates a scene of incomparable beauty. Weather dependent.
Photo courtesy - Hawktree Golf Club
Photo courtesy - Hawktree Golf Club

Hands-on, Easy to Travel with, Art Activities
At Bismarck Art & Galleries Association you will learn the art of Zentangle, a meditative activity that is focused on mindful drawing. It involves combining defined patterns to create an original work of art. No art experience is necessary to take this class. It’s fun and relaxing and you will take a small travel pack home with you! After that we will have a dry wool felting session to create a small, felted item. Each participant also will take home their own felting kit. Both are great, economical, compact art skills that are fun to learn and take along on your travels!
Art Gallery

*11:00 am-4:00 pm: Late-morning Tour
Attire: Casual, wear comfortable shoes.

Brewery Tour
We're going to explore some of our amazing local breweries! We'll make out way to Gideon’s BrewingStonehome Brewing Company and Laughing Sun Brewing. All have their own unique story; we can't wait to share them with you. *Note: If you choose this tour, it leaves later than others and you cannot do another one if you choose this one.
People at Laughing Sun

Afternoon: Free Time
Catch-up on work, relax, pack, make one last run to a favorite stop or pick one that we missed!
Raging Rivers
Raging Rivers Waterpark

6:00 pm: Closing Reception & Dinner
Radisson Hotel Bismarck. Attire: Dressy.

8:30-11:00 pm: Until Next Time, in the Hotel Bar
One last toast with your MTJA friends until the next conference! Radisson Hotel Bismarck’s Off Broadway Lounge.
Capital Grounds at Night


Sunday, June 16

6:30-8:30 am: Drop-in Breakfast
Radisson Hotel Bismarck.

Throughout the Day: MTJA Members Depart and Post-Tours Begin
It's Father’s Day! If you have driven, or have a flight later in the day, there may be events like a Father’s Day Hike at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Father’s Day at Raging Rivers Waterpark, the Dakota Zoo and the North Dakota State Railroad Museum that you might like to do. We will research this as we get closer and compile a list to share.
Dakota Zoo
Dakota Zoo